The Bible and capital punishment

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Should Paul the apostle have been executed because of killing people? Should Moses have been executed because he killed a man? Should David have been executed because he had a man killed?

    What do you think of the following article?

    http://www.bpnews.net/bpcolumn.asp?ID=2004

    FIRST-PERSON: The Bible and capital punishment
    By Jack Graham
    Oct 11, 2005

    PLANO, Texas (BP)--Several years ago, the state of Texas executed the first woman since the Civil War -- well-known murderer and death-row inmate Karla Fay Tucker. Surprising to many, the day Karla died, she was a radically changed, born-again Christian. But just 14 years prior to her death, she was as far away from a relationship with God as one could possibly be.

    Many people remember the story of Karla Fay. She was a druggie who began smoking marijuana at age 8 and started using heroin by the age of 10. As a teenager, she sold her body as a prostitute in the streets. And she ultimately wound up brutally murdering two people with a pickax.

    But soon after her arrest, incarceration and trial, Karla Fay professed her faith in Jesus. As a matter of fact, a Southern Baptist chaplain in Houston led her to faith in Christ. After her baptism, she became involved in Bible study, prayer and ministry. And every person who met and knew her after her conversion said she had changed.

    News about Karla Fay’s execution was broadcast across the nation. Today, the issue of capital punishment continues to spark heated debates between people.

    Each time a sensational execution such as Karla Fay’s occurs, the opponents hope to create a national revulsion suggesting that capital punishment is legalized murder. Yet others say that capital punishment is essential to maintain law and order in a civil society such as ours.

    As Christians, we can’t make a decision based upon experience, emotions or public opinion polls. It simply can’t be decided apart from the authority of Scripture.

    There is a clear distinction in Scripture between murder and capital punishment. God explicitly tells us that we must not take vengeance personally against another human being.

    Romans 12:17-19 says, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

    In Romans 13:1-2, God uses government and authority to repay those who have wronged another. In those verses, God commands us to submit to governing authorities because of their positional appointment by Him. And when we resist their discipline, we defy the laws of God.

    “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:3-4).

    I don’t know how it could be any clearer than that. Human civil authority is ordained of Him. “He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:21).

    Even though Scripture spells it out for us, some people still wrestle with the topic of capital punishment. At the dawn of human history, God executed punishment over the entire earth with a massive flood that wiped out mankind. Genesis 9 was a new beginning for civilization and standards (see Genesis 9:6).

    Simply put, to murder someone defames and destroys the image of God, and disarms the power of God to work in that person’s life. And therefore, there is punishment a murderer must face.

    Our world has grown increasingly more violent because we have failed to quickly execute those who are guilty of capital crimes (see Ecclesiastes 8:11). This topic could be debated all day, but statistics show that while executions are increasing, murder is decreasing.

    God doesn’t demand capital punishment only because it is a deterrent. Rather, the reason is simple justice, righteousness, and the right of a holy God to execute retribution through those He’s placed in authority.

    Karla Fay Tucker came to Christ and I believe she is in His presence now. But there are too many 8 and 10-year-old Karla Fay’s running the streets of our country today. And it is our responsibility to try and reach them for Christ before it’s too late.
    --30--
    For more information on Jack Graham, visit www.jackgraham.org. The website contains Graham's sermons in audio and video format, as well as an online store with resources. Visitors also can sign up for “A Daily Word from Pastor Graham."

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  2. Pipedude

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    Paul/Saul's lynchings had a veneer of Jewish law to legitimate them.

    The record of Moses's act isn't detailed enough for us to know to what degree it was justified.

    David should have been executed, no question about it.
     
  3. Bro. Curtis

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    Christians should support the death penalty, if that's how the Holt Spirit leads them. They should be against it, if that's how the Holy Spirit leads them.
     
  4. Marcia

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    I have been on both sides of the fence, but after the sniper shootings in this area a few years ago (it seems like a few months to me), when we were afraid to walk into a store or restaurant and sat in our cars while gassing up, and saw innocent people gunned down sitting at a bus stop or mowing a lawn or putting gas in their car, I was actually hoping that guy John Mohammed (I am not sure that is exactly right but his name is something like that) would get the death penalty, and he did.

    I am leaning for the death penalty when the evidence is clearcut and certain circumstances are in place such as multiple murders, torture in conjunction with the murder, a felony in conjunction with the murder, etc. (aggravating circumstances are required for the death penalty by law). I see this as a judgment on taking a life that God has given to men, starting in Gen. 9.
     
  5. Bro. Curtis

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    Judging by some of the Psalms I have read, David probably wished he WAS dead.
     
  6. Plain Old Bill

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    It was God who instituted the death penalty. I don't think anybody takes any kind of joy when someone is executed it is just sad all the way around.
    I think Moses case would have come out as manslaughter in one of todays courts and he spent a lot of years in the sesert for that.
    I think Paul ended up taking Stevens place and that to me at least worked out as a divine irony.
    David would have been convicted of murder in one of todays courts provided someone had the power and will to bring him to trial.
     
  7. Roguelet

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    Not sure how people in the bible would be addressed today according to Gods law.

    But today this is the way i see it.

    I believe in the death penalty. But I also believe in giving someone a second chance, a person who is remorseful for his crimes. Not someone pretending but someone who is really sorry for what he/she did and either killed out of self defense or a one time thing. No death penalty.

    You can tell when someone is able to be rehabilitated and I think greater measures should be taken to find out who they are. For the person who makes a mockery out of the justice system, ( BTK comes to mind ) should be put to death. All serial killers and child molestors, habitual rapist etc. Studies have found they cannot be rehabilitated.

    I see a lot of things that need to be changed in our justice system, for one rich people and celeberties always seem to get away with anything. :(
     
  8. patrick

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    Bro. Curtuis and myslef often find ourselves at odds on this particular issue. We each have to follow our own convictions. We must spend time in our prayer closets to find where we stand on the issue.

    We need clear cut policies on the use of the death penalty in the U.S. Today it is used as a political tool. We need to say the crimes meets the standard and not this is a high profile case.

    God's word that states, "He sent His Son that none should perish." We need to keep that in mind also. That our ultimate call is to share the Gospel to all. Even people we might despise and dislike.

    There are some good cases both for and agianst the death penalty. You do a little research and you can find cases that are mis carriages of justice. My view if there is a one innocent man or woman executed then we lose. Unless the case is 100% I feel like the govermant should not take the chance of executing an innocent man. Prosecuters want the fame and the glory even if it is at the cost of one who did not committ the crime. Look at ILL as an example. Many innocent men on death row.
     
  9. Gold Dragon

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    Maybe in the past you have disagreed. But so far in this thread, both of you have agreed that this is an area best left to conviction. As Baptists who believe in Individual Soul Liberty, I applaud both of you.

    My position is that yes, there is a biblical model for capital punishment in the OT and it may be justified as a means of punishment to be used by governments. However, I don't believe it is something an NT Christian should seek of someone else. Primarily this is from wanting even the most despised and sinful to have a chance to be reconciled with Christ.

    The arguments for capital punishment include financial cost and the will of the victims. While finances are important, I don't know if they should be the primary factor this type of decision. And the will of the victim is usually not the determining factor for punishment in other crimes. The best arguments for capital punishment is the prevention of future murders. It is definitely effective on an individual basis. But I wonder how effective capital punishment is from a societal basis at murder prevention.
     
  10. gb93433

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    The problem is that laws cannot be established on the basis of subjective theology.
     
  11. fatbacker

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    God is not going to convict one person to be for the death penalty and then another against. That would be like God fighting against Himself.

    God had continually sent nations against other nations for their wickedness and has even Punished them by His own hand and not used other men. I would say the death penalty is used to punish those who have done very wicked things.

    And if you get saved prior to your death then your in good shape. Like Paul or Moses God had other plans other than immediate death for them.
    Not sure of script but" To live is Christ to die is gain."

    Hey just remember they used to be able to stone their kids to death for being uncontrolable. I think we should reinstate that one...lol
     
  12. canadyjd

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    Christians are never told to seek or support the death of anyone. It is unChristlike to do so. The Romans 13 passage is a warning to Christians not to rebel (probably because of high taxes, or taxes that supported pagan temples). The warning is to Christians. The "sword" is an image of authority. The death penalty is not even mentioned in the passage. Execution for rebels was by crucifixion.

    I Tim.1:16 "Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life."

    This is very clear. Paul says he is the "foremost" sinner because he persecuted the church, killing Christians (or having them killed). But Christ used him as an example for all future believers. We are to have the same kind of paitence with the worst of sinners, even murderers like Paul.

    It is unChristlike to seek of support the death of anyone. In this country, Christians are in a unique position of being able to influence whether of not we have the death penalty. We serve on juries, elect representatives and judges. We should use that influence to end the death penalty.

    Is God not capable of changing the nature of anyone He chooses? Even child molestors and serial killers? Of course He is.

    Christians should demand that ever person have every second of their natural lives to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
     
  13. Helen

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    Until man is no longer made in the image of God, the death penalty is required of first degree murder. This law, and the reason for it, was given to Noah, long before the Ten Commandments were given to Moses!

    This has nothing to do with what God CAN do. It has everything to do with what He has told us we SHOULD do.

    It doesn't mean we have to like it! Obedience is not always a matter of liking, however.

    As far as stoning children for disobedience, no, that is not what is meant. The children being referred to were adult children who were consciously and deliberately causing their parents' name -- reputation and character -- to be slandered.

    This is from a Bible study my husband and I did some years ago here:

    from Exodus 21:

    Verse 17 has caused great confusion, for it states that anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death. Back to the Concordance. The word translated "curse" means to cause others to think evil of the parents. This implies a deliberate and repeated series of slanderous and horrible statements about the parents for the purpose of others thinking poorly of them. It is THIS the Bible commands capital punishment for, not swearing at one's parents! Is there an age limit here? Considering that few teens think well of their parents and we all make allowances for that, it is much more likely that this command had to do with grown offspring and not youngsters! A teen talking badly about his or her parents is more or less expected in almost every society! People do not take them seriously, so it would be very difficult for a teen to cause others to think evil of his or her parents. Not impossible, but very difficult to say the least. It is far more likely that a respected grown man could cause great harm to his parents' reputation and name by speaking evil of them, and thus causing others to think evil of them. This is the crime punishable by death in Exodus.
     
  14. canadyjd

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    Helen: Let's look at the Genesis passage.

    Genesis 9:2-6: "The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. (3) Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. (4) Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (5) Surely I will require you lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man's brother I will require the life of man. (6) Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man."

    God is distinguishing man from other creatures. This is clear. Before the flood, man did not eat animals. After the flood, God gave mankind animals to eat. He then distinguishes man from the other creatures by reminding Noah that man is made in the image of God.

    Does God make an absolute statement when He says "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man."? If that were an absolute statement, then you could expect God to send someone to kill any and every person who killed another.

    We know that God has not done that, don't we? Moses killed the Egyptian. That was before the law. God did not require His death. David had Uriah killed and God did not require his death. That was after the law. Paul killed Christians (or had them killed) and God did not require his death. That was after Christ and the resurrection.

    What you have in the Genesis 9 passage is not an absolute statement concerning the "death penalty". That is to see far more in the words than are intended. There is no mention of courts or judgement or justice. It is a general statement concerning the nature of men and the difference we have with animals. God uses strong language here to make the distinction between men and animals.

    The attitude we should have concerning the death penalty is clearly demonstrated by Jesus and the mercy He showed to Paul. I Tim 1:16 states it plainly if you will accept it.
     
  15. Helen

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    God gave us directions for how to deal with murder. What He does is HIS business. He knows the heart and the purposes He has for someone.

    Nor has He changed, or changed His directions. Genesis 9 is not just strong language, it is an order given to us concerning those who kill humans, both other humans and animals.
     
  16. Roguelet

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    I believe the biggest reason Gods laws were so strick back then, was for cleansing and to be an example to others to do what is right.

    I mean come on, if we had immediate and harsher punishments for kids and for those who break the law, it would stop others from even thining of breaking them !

    My kids always got a swift disciplne when they disobeyed. No threats, no wait till your dad got home, no changing my mind. but a immediate responce no matter where I was. I figured there was always a bathroom no matter where you were to take them to.

    I get a lot of compliments on how well behave my kids are and i have ones in their 20's the youngest 14.

    The punishemnt should fit the crime, rehab for remorse and first timers, death for repeat offenders of violent crimes. Eye for eye tooth for tooth.
     
  17. Baptist Vine

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    The Bible supports capital punishment.

    I am against capital punishment however, because we humans misuse it. In our hands, it becomes murder. We lie, cheat, fake evidence, deliberately convict innocent people. That means it is no longer capital punishment. Instead it becomes murder.

    A real capital punishment option, where people could be trusted to execute only the truly guilty, who are guilty of crimes deserving of the penalty, I would not be against. But this never occurs.

    And please, don't anyone tell me there is an overall cleansing effect, as I have sometimes been told, when we kill a few innocents along with some guilty.

    There are some people who could be trusted with the responsibility to administer a capital punishment system, but too many can't be trusted.

    The question of Paul poses an interesting question. He had people murdered before his conversion, no doubt.
     
  18. Roguelet

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    I was watching a comedy show the other day. My name is Earl and Earl has felt the need to right all his wrongs one by one. So he goes to a guy who because of him went to jail even though he was innocent. Earl thought the guy was going to be real mad when he told him he was the reason he went to jail. The guy found Jesus while in prison so something good came out of it, so the guy wasn't that mad ( but his mother was ) anyway, he said he would have went to prison eventually for something else.

    A profound statement, many crimminals because of their choices and lifestyle may be innocent ( which are very FEW ) on the charge they are being charged with but many will admit it would have been something else eventually that they would be there for. It's not like most on death row do not have a history of repeat serious offenses. Again more would think twice if they new the consequences were greater.

    Just look at the countries that do have strick punishments and see how their crime rate is !
    Maybe we should adopt some of their ideas.
    We are to soft and wishy washy in this country
    :(
     
  19. canadyjd

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    God has changed His directions in how we deal with those who sin, even murderers like Paul. It is clear from I Tim.1:16, if you will accept it.

    It is also clear from John 8:1-11. John recounts how the woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus. v. 7. "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

    This was not just a causal remark to shame them. The Old Testament requirement to execute the death penalty was to have two witnesses and the two witnesses were to throw the first stones. (Deut. 17:6-7)

    Jesus changed those requirements. The only person who can execute the death penalty is someone without sin. Since God alone is sinless, only God can execute the death penalty.

    It is unChristlike to seek or support the death of anyone.
     
  20. Roguelet

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    Here is great link on the WHOLE subject and what the Bible says. even on rehabilitaion, forgiveness, the law, our goverments
    responsibility, old and new testament etc.

    http://www.str.org/free/studies/capipuni.htm

    Check it out.

    I always find it hard to believe that someone who is against the death penalty would still be against it if they had an innocent loved one murdered especially a child. Not my story though just thought this would be true. You'd think way differently if it was more personal !
     

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